This three-year project will study the impacts of accelerated timber harvest on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) of high cultural or economic value, and develop practical strategies for compatible management in areas affected by mountain pine beetle (MPB) salvage cutting. The research will focus on a community forest tenure, where the license-holder has greater ability to manage for both timber and non-timber products and, therefore, a greater incentive for compatible management. Lessons will also be relevant for areas where First Nations have demonstrated interest in NTFPs of significant cultural and traditional value.
Accelerated timber harvesting in areas of MPB infestation is leading to widespread changes in forest ecology, particularly in the northern interior of British Columbia where the rates of infestation are highest. While the implications of these changes for sawlog production and other high-value commercial products have been well studied, there is little known about the impacts on NTFPs of high cultural or economic value. The mountain pine beetle, by effectively killing large portions of the pine forests, is inevitably affecting the distribution, abundance and quality of the understory. This in turn affects community access to and ability to use these species.
Research on methods to adequately incorporate cultural or commercial values within vegetation inventories is still at the beginning stages. Culturally used species inventory is really a focused vegetation inventory (Cocksedge 2006). This can be done as a Vegetation Resource Inventory or through tools such as Terrestrial or Predictive Ecosystem Mapping. Either approach is limited by the fact that the presence and cover of a species does not necessarily reflect the usability or quality of the plants in that location. For example, in a forest with a relatively closed canopy cover, a conventional vegetation inventory may show extensive Vaccinium cover, but under these conditions the quality of Vaccinium for berry production would likely be very low to nil due to lack of light. An inventory must therefore include an assessment of quality in order to understand ecosystem processes. We are proposing to build on preliminary method development that we have done elsewhere (see below), and test criteria and scales for a consistent assessment, for incorporation into conventional inventories.
Understanding which species are important to the local communities and how to assess and incorporate the species quality (i.e. whether it is sufficient for traditional and/or NTFP use) was initiated through FSP Y081318 (Understanding the spatial and quality attributes of culturally important non-timber forest product species in mountain pine beetle affected areas of the Cariboo-Chilcotin). In the FSP Y071318-FSP Y093318 study, team and community members identified key cultural use species, developed quality criteria for each species for a numerical rating scale which could be used within standard inventories, and sampled known high quality areas to both field test the rating system and develop correlations of habitat conditions with high quality presence. This proposal would rely heavily on these methods, but extend to different species and ecosystems in order to both expand the tools required for compatible management (quality criteria guidelines for an expanded suite of species) as well as increase our immediate understanding of forest management effects on NTFPs.
The Burns Lake Community Forest presents a good case study to further the development of research on NTFP inventory methods, species autecology and compatible management potential, as the research builds on synergies and efficiencies from other projects, including a train the trainer workshop on NTFPs (BC Community Forest Association, 2007) and a concurrent project funded by Burns Lake Community Forest which is gathering public opinion on NTFP management, specifically within the Wetsuweten First Natio
University, Royal Roads. 2010. Impact of Accelerated Timber Harvesting on NTFPs in Burns Lake Community Forest. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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